Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists find new tool to measure sugar consumption

19.06.2013
Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks identified a new tool that can dramatically improve the notoriously inaccurate surveys of what and how much an individual eats and drinks. Their research is published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

Conventional wisdom says that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda and fruit juice is a significant contributor to obesity and chronic disease risk, but the science surrounding this issue is inconclusive.

Part of the problem is that in a typical diet survey few people accurately and consistently recall what they consumed. The problem becomes exaggerated when people underreport foods they know are less healthy for them, like sugars.

“We were looking for an objective biomarker that could accurately measure long-term sugar intake from a single blood or hair sample” said Diane O’Brien, project leader and biologist with the UAF Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the Institute of Arctic Biology.

The biomarker O’Brien and her CANHR research group pilot-tested was the ratio of two different carbon atoms (heavy carbon 13 and light carbon 12) which are incorporated into plants during photosynthesis. The ratio, called an isotopic signature, is distinct in corn and sugar cane, which are the sources of nearly all of the sugars found in sugar-sweetened beverages.

“We used the isotopic signature of alanine an amino acid and building block of protein that essentially traps the carbon from dietary sugar so that it can be measured in the protein component of hair or blood,” O’Brien said.

Even after foods and beverages are consumed, metabolized, transported in blood and stored in body tissues, these isotopic signatures remain largely intact. The more sugar-sweetened beverages an individual consumes, the greater alanine’s carbon isotope ratio will be. Importantly, O’Brien’s group found that alanine was uncorrelated with other foods that can contribute to elevated carbon ratios.

Although the use of isotope signatures to study food webs and diet is not new, previous efforts to accurately measure sweetener intake have not been particularly successful. The use of alanine and the technique employed by O’Brien’s group makes their findings particularly exciting.

“Even for validated and well-accepted biomarkers of diet, associations with self-reported intake are generally very weak. Our biomarker was able to explain almost half of the variation in self-reported sugar-sweetened beverage intake, which in this field is a very high level of explanatory power,” said O’Brien.

The scientists’ findings are also being used in other health and diet-related research.

“Diane’s research program has provided CANHR with incredibly valuable objectively measured biomarkers of food intake,” said CANHR Director Bert Boyer. “These biomarkers are currently being used to help us understand the role polyunsaturated fatty acids play in disease prevention, including the modification of genetic risk.”

The tool is not without its drawbacks, caution the authors.

“The gas chromatography-combustion-isotope ratio mass spectrometry process we used isn’t inexpensive and or widely available,” O’Brien said. “We expect that our findings will be most useful as a calibration tool, either for self-reported dietary data or more high-throughput biomarkers of sweetener intake.”

The Center for Alaska Native Health Research was established through a five-year grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health, National Center for Research Resources to the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The purpose of CANHR is to investigate weight, nutrition and health in Alaska Natives. CANHR approaches this thematic focus from a genetic, dietary and cultural-behavioral perspective. The funding comes through a program for Centers of biomedical Research Excellence. This project is a partnership with the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation.

The participants and data in this project are from the CANHR Neqem Nallunailkutaa (The Foods’ Market) study conducted in 2008-2009 in two coastal Yup’ik communities in Southwest Alaska.

ADDITIONAL CONTACTS: Diane O’Brien, associate professor of biology, Institute of Arctic Biology, Center for Alaska Native Health Research, University of Alaska Fairbanks. dmobrien@alaska.edu, 907-474-5762. Bert Boyer, professor of molecular biology; director, Center for Alaska Native Health Research, Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks. bboyer@alaska.edu, 907-474-7733.

Marie Thoms | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.alaska.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Bacteria as pacemaker for the intestine
22.11.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Researchers identify how bacterium survives in oxygen-poor environments
22.11.2017 | Columbia University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Corporate coworking as a driver of innovation

22.11.2017 | Business and Finance

PPPL scientists deliver new high-resolution diagnostic to national laser facility

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Quantum optics allows us to abandon expensive lasers in spectroscopy

22.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>